Internship Spotlight: Summer 2021
Image by Michael Tozzi
Virtual Vacation Scheme with Farrer & Co
I completed a Virtual Vacation Scheme with full-service law firm Farrer & Co. Specialising in private client work, Farrer & Co prides itself on providing the best service possible for its clients, the likes of which include Queen Elizabeth II. As a mid-size firm, my vacation scheme allowed the deeply collaborative atmosphere of Farrer & Co to shine. I was able to engage with trainees, associates, and even their Senior Partner, Anne-Marie Piper, who all spoke to the firm’s inclusive culture and the deeply interesting work in which their solicitors engage.
The scheme not only provided an insight into the culture at Farrer & Co, but it also pushed us to perform well for those assessing us. During the assessed research tasks, I researched and wrote a recommendation document for employers surrounding Islamophobia in the workplace. as part of their new racial equality task force’s publication.
In addition to this, throughout the week I learned that Farrer’s places great emphasis on encouraging diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They champion a range of initiatives to widen access to the legal profession. By having interesting talks and discussions about issues such as the gender imbalance in the legal field, and what Farrer’s does to combat this, I cemented my knowledge that Farrer’s is a firm at which I would greatly enjoy working. This, I would argue, is the most important takeaway from a successful vacation scheme.
My full article delves further into the causes the firm promotes; how the virtual aspect of my vacation scheme did not hinder my ability to gain a great insight into what Farrer & Co looks for in a trainee; and, most importantly, what you should look for in a firm before you apply for their training contract.
The Campaign School at Yale University
Law is a vast field that incorporates an astounding variety of interests, personalities and pathways. For many, a legal career exists outside law firms or courtrooms and rests in a much more non-traditional space – like your local neighborhood political campaign.
My interest in law in what led me to The Campaign School at Yale University. Often teased as being sadistically intense, this organisation has one goal – to increase the number of women who run for office. Accepting individuals of all backgrounds from across the world, The Campaign School at Yale is the most comprehensive course for individuals who want to run for office or run campaigns anywhere in the world.
Campaigns are tied to the law in many facets. From the complicated legal restrictions that surround campaign action and funding to the influence that campaigns and candidates have over the legislative process, political campaigns and law are uniquely connected by their mutually constitutive nature. That is one of the many reasons that the campaign school is sponsored by Yale University's law department.
I am, what is known in the political organising community as, a campaign junky. I am not a policy person and neither do I have dreams of a corner office on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. My goals consist of long hours in a moderately priced SUV dropping of campaign signs to constituents. I do not dream of my candidacy but rather getting brilliant women elected to every level of office. Therefore, for someone like me, The Campaign School at Yale was an incredible learning opportunity as it gave me the skills, resources and legal knowledge essential to building a successful political campaign.
Lectures varied from effective uses for polling data to how to target potential voters in your district. From 8 am to 6 pm, the professors, whose careers in politics and laws were highly impressive, share everything they know from their years working for the Democratic and Republican Parties, nonprofit organisations, consulting groups and media corporations. In the evenings, the professors assign you to a team where you are challenged to create a campaign plan for a mock scenario. The program is only one week long but the knowledge shared was gathered over decades from women who did not have access to the same support and guidance at the start of their careers.
Whether you are interested in a career in politics, want to run for office or want to develop a non-profit, this program is for you. I gained the confidence I needed to take big steps in my career. While this is very much a plug for this awesome program, The Campaign School at Yale University stands as an interesting example of the vast opportunities for university students who are considering a future in law.
Human Rights Internship with JustRight Scotland
This summer I am interning remotely at JustRight Scotland, a human rights law firm based in Glasgow. JustRight Scotland has four legal centres: the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC), Scottish Refugee and Migrant Centre (SRMC), Scottish Anti-Trafficking and Exploitation Centre (SATEC) and the Scottish Just Law Centre (SJLC).
My work this summer was within SRMC and SATEC where I was hired as a Legal Intern. These centres work with children and those who have been victims of human trafficking to make sure they receive justice and legal recognition in Scotland.
On an average day working I open my laptop at around 9:25 am to make sure there are no technical issues. I check to see if anyone has emailed me tasks to work on and, if there is nothing, I email the managers I am reporting to that day and ask for tasks. Tasks are varied but include drafting correspondence and other documents, researching legal issues and the conditions in countries relevant to clients’ cases, compiling court documents and assisting with telephone calls.
One of the main tasks I have carried out is writing witness statements to the Home Office. Witness statements are some of the most humbling work; they involve writing accounts of our clients’ lives, their journeys to the UK and their trafficking experience. I take meeting notes which involve the client describing their account and me writing them out in the first person. This is sometimes a very challenging task as you are reading and writing about traumatic experiences. However, by doing this you are empowering the voices of the survivors in the asylum process.
People have asked me if I enjoyed my internship and the honest answer is no. I find it challenging, interesting and rewarding but the work is not “fun”. However, I would not have it any other way. You can read a more detailed account of my internship here.
Interning in a District Attorney's Office
Over the summer, I interned for the Appellate Division of the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office. The Appellate Division deals with a myriad of appeals, both people’s and defendant’s, and is primarily concerned with whether the correct decision was made in the lower courts, rather than being merely a re-trial. This is done through numerous motions such as a 440 motion which argues that the courts' previous convictions should be rendered null and void due to legal errors. People’s appeals typically involve making a motion to reinstate charges against an individual such as if the court previously deemed that there was not enough evidence or precedent to indite on certain charges. These motions and appeals typically take years to be finalised due to the length of legal research that is needed.
The Appellate Division is one of the most significant and important aspects of criminal law as their decisions typically become the basis for future criminal cases. Many lawyers use court cases that were held up by the Appellate Division decades earlier in their motions as this helps to emphasise the importance of each decision.
Throughout the internship, I helped the DA’s office on different motions and read trial transcripts to determine the defining aspects of the original trials. Re-reading trial transcripts is immensely important in appeals as new evidence is almost never admitted in appeals so any motion or decision must depend on the evidence originally present. This internship was a fantastic experience and allowed me to not only gain a better understanding of criminal law as a whole but also the numerous intricacies present in both trial and appellate laws.
Legal Placement in an Investment Firm
This summer, I interned in investment firm Angelo Gordon’s Legal Compliance Department in New York City. The firm works across several different strategies including: convertible arbitrage, distressed debt, middle-market direct lending, real estate and private equity. As a result, certain branches and strategies may come under “material nonpublic information” (MNPI) about a business entity. This includes information such as financial projections or earnings reports to which the general public does not have access.
One of the compliance department’s tasks is to restrict securities (financial instruments such as stocks) related to a company’s MNPI, in accordance with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) policies. This prevents anyone within an investment firm from engaging in transactions which the SEC might regard as insider trading.
While the internship was in a financial firm, it demonstrated how those with a law background can pursue many career paths beyond becoming a barrister or solicitor. Indeed, today’s complex regulatory environment necessitates legal professionals across many fields.
Interning with Sony's Legal and Compliance Department
This summer I had the opportunity to be an Undergraduate Legal & Compliance Intern at the Sony Corporation of America. This has given me the chance to work with multiple teams within the organisation and learn about both the legal and compliance sides of their business.
I have assisted in an ongoing contract review and negotiation as well as conducting research for a data privacy project. I have even had the opportunity to research and present a cumulative research presentation giving my suggestions on whether or not SCA should adopt office hoteling as a part of their post-pandemic work strategy. This presentation also included advice on how they could reconfigure their office space to maximise productivity, cut costs and create a safer work environment.
During my internship, I have also conducted research on a variety of adjacent topics such as how to retain diverse talent in the post-pandemic work era and have tracked the ways in which peer companies have shifted their policies to suit the dynamic nature of the pandemic and the needs of their employees.
Overall, the best part about working for Sony this summer was the people; at every turn, someone was willing to teach me more.
Legal Researcher for a Charity
This summer I took up a volunteering position as a legal researcher for charity VOICEABILITY My role was to research and create a case law library to guide the charity’s 200 advocates in writing reports for social workers, doctors or other local authorities and health professionals. These reports are requested because they are a way of representing the rights of clients who do not have the capacity to make a particular decision.
The role allowed me to do some fascinating research and required me to critically analyse cases as well as select relevant material. The work I undertook related mostly to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Deprivation of Liberty 2009 and the final outcome was a comprehensive case law library. An example of the analysis is below:
When a client's desire is to not proceed with a short term life-prolonging procedure
Not only was the work that I did an excellent opportunity to gain specific legal knowledge and work hands-on with legal cases but it was wonderful to be able to do something that would be used daily to contribute to VOICEABILITY’s work and aims. As somebody interested in pursuing a career in human rights law with the Bar this opportunity provided me with invaluable experience with significant responsibility.
I encourage anyone seeking work experience to strengthen their CV to reach out to charitable organisations. Volunteering is an excellent way to learn new skills and gain insights into the sector while also helping to give back in a meaningful way. It is also an excellent option for those who may not be able to commit to a full-time opportunity, allowing you to be flexible with your working hours. VOICEABILITY is planning on running a volunteering programme again and I encourage anyone interested to consider applying. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!